Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues June 8, 2019

Subject: Google quietly ruined Chrome, and we almost missed it
Source: BGR

Google’s Chrome is the most popular way to browse the web on desktop and mobile, thanks to a combination of features that make it a reliable, albeit sometimes resource-intensive, app. However, Google’s recent moves are going to ruin the Chrome experience for many users, and we nearly missed them.

Google a few months ago announced a proposal to change the way Chrome extensions work, which would prevent current ad blockers from working. Google received plenty of negative feedback from users, but this hasn’t deterred the company from going forward with these plans.

What’s also interesting is that Google made it clear during I/O 2019 that it wants to offer better privacy and security to users, something that seemed to go against its bottom line. Google tried to redefine privacy to suit it needs around that time. The fact that it’s trying to protect the customizable ads that it sells to businesses is also an indication that Google won’t give up collecting user data anytime soon.

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Subject: Privacy concerns don’t stop people from putting their DNA on the internet to help solve crimes
Source: The Conversation

Americans are embracing the use of DNA databases to solve crimes.

Over the past year DNA submitted to ancestry websites have helped police in the United States identify the killers in several unsolved crimes, including the Golden State Killer case – a longtime subject of internet sleuthing.

The practice has raised some concerns about police access to the genetic profiles of millions of Americans, with some privacy advocates demanding that courts prohibit this investigative tactic.

But those offered the chance to participate actively in the drama of criminal justice often find privacy to be of little concern, my research shows.

About a thousand new profiles are uploaded to GEDmatch every day, Rogers says. The site contains over 1.2 million user-submitted DNA kits.

The ethics of public DNA – Home DNA kits are only the latest technology to dramatically increase public participation in monitoring, preventing and even solving crimes.

Websites like NextDoor have taken the neighborhood watch concept – when neighbors work together to prevent crime – online. The app Citizen alerts civilians about 911 calls to crimes underway in their vicinity and allows them to upload video of the incident. And over 700,000 people frequent the cold case discussions on Reddit, an online message board.

Amateur sleuths may jump at the chance of their DNA helping to catch a killer, but there are good reasons to pause and take stock of the ethical concerns raised by this practice.


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Subject: Facebook reportedly thinks there’s no ‘expectation of privacy’ on social media
Source: CNET via beSpacific

CNET – The social network wants to dismiss a lawsuit stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “Facebook on Wednesday [May 28, 2019]reportedly argued that it didn’t violate users’ privacy rights because there’s no expectation of privacy when using social media.

“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because …
beSpacific Subjects: Courts, E-Records, Legal Research, Privacy, Social Media

CNET Tags Security Privacy Facebook
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Subject: State Department says it is now requiring social media info from ‘most’ visa applicants
Source: CNNPolitics

Washington (CNN)The State Department has begun requesting “most” US visa applicants provide information on their social media accounts, a department official said in a statement.

The move was expected following an announcement in March of last year that outlined plans to require nearly all US visa applicants to submit their social media handles and other information.

The State Department statement over the weekend said the forms for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants had been updated “to request additional information, including social media identifiers.”

According to the official’s statement, the move is a result of a memorandum issued by President Donald Trump in 2017 on “vetting” for people coming to the US and a provision of an executive order from around the same time that sought to block entry to the US for people from several majority-Muslim countries, which included a provision on vetting standards.

“It will infringe on the rights of immigrants and US citizens by chilling freedom of speech and association, particularly because people will now have to wonder if what they say online will be misconstrued or misunderstood by a government official,” the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi said of the proposal.

Subject: Big tech surveillance could damage democracy
Source: The Conversation

Data is often called the oil of the 21st century.

The more tech companies know about their users, the more effectively they can direct them to goods and services that they are likely to buy. The more companies know about their users, the more competitive they are in the market.

Custom-tailored capitalism is what has made Google, Facebook, Amazon and others the richest companies in the world. This profit incentive has turned big tech into a competitive field of mass intelligence gathering. The better and more comprehensive the data, the higher profits will be.

But this business model – what I consider spying machines – has enormous potential to violate civil liberties. Big tech is already being used abroad to enhance the power of repressive regimes, as my work and others’ has shown.

While it is not presently a direct threat to U.S. democracy, I worry that the potential for future abuses exists so long as big tech remains largely unregulated.

Big tech’s spy machines

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Subject: Enforcing Federal Privacy Law – Constitutional Limitations on Private Rights of Action
Source: CRS via beSpacific

CRS Legal Sidebar – Enforcing Federal Privacy Law—Constitutional Limitations on Private Rights of Action, May 31, 2019: “Over the last two years, the prospect of a comprehensive federal data privacy law has been the subject of considerable attention in the press and in Congress. Some Members of Congress and outside groups have developed many proposals in the last six months alone. Some of the proposed legislation would limit companies’ ability to use personal information collected online, require that companies protect customers from data breaches, provide certain disclosures about their use of personal information, or allow users to opt out of certain data practices. Some proposals combine all of those elements or take still different approaches.

One overarching question that every data privacy proposal raises is how to enforce any new federal rights or obligations that a given bill would impose.

beSpacific Subjects: Civil Liberties, Congress, Courts, Government Documents, Internet, Knowledge Management, Legal Research, Legislation, Privacy, Social Media

Subject: GAO: FBI has access to more than 641 million ‘face photos’
Source: CNNPolitics

The information released in prepared testimony from US Government Accountability Office homeland security and justice director Gretta Goodwin said the 641 million figure was accurate as of April 2019. In the release on Tuesday, the GAO said it had called on the Department of Justice and FBI to take further steps to improve privacy and “ensure the accuracy of its face recognition capabilities.”

The FBI’s available trove of photos contains some from its own face recognition system that includes photos from the criminal justice system, like mugshots, and others available from state and federal government databases, like driver’s license photos, the GAO said. The 641 million figure refers specifically “to photos, not the total number of identities,” according to Goodwin’s testimony.

“We learned that over 20 states, 20 states, have given their bureau of motor vehicles, department of motor vehicles, the database — driver’s license database, they’ve just given access to that to the FBI,” Jordan, the committee’s top Republican, said. “No individual signed off on that when they renewed their driver’s license, got their driver’s licenses. They didn’t sign any waiver saying, ‘Oh it’s OK to turn my information, my photo, over to the FBI.’ No elected officials voted for that to happen.”

Kimberly Del Greco, representing the FBI at Tuesday’s hearing, said in her testimony that facial recognition could “greatly enhance law enforcement capabilities and protect public safety,” while pledging the bureau’s commitment to “the protection of privacy and civil liberties.” Goodwin also said in her testimony that FBI face recognition assisted in the arrest of one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives in 2017.

Subject: Firefox starts blocking third-party cookies by default
Source: Venture Beat via beSpacific

Venture Beat: “Mozilla today announced a slew of privacy improvements. The company has turned on Enhanced Tracking Protection, which blocks cookies from third-party trackers in Firefox, by default. Mozilla has also improved its Facebook Container extension, released a Firefox desktop extension for its rebranded Lockwise password keeper, and updated Firefox Monitor with a dashboard for multiple email addresses.

beSpacific Subjects: E-Commerce, Internet, Privacy, Search Engines
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Subject: Fake LinkedIn Profiles Are Impossible to Detect
Source: How-To Geek via beSpacific

Ever wonder if all of the LinkedIn profiles that boast comprehensive expertise, outstanding performance, and enviable recommendations…are well, real? – Fake LinkedIn Profiles Are Impossible to Detect: “Don’t trust everything you see on LinkedIn. We created a fake LinkedIn profile with a fake job at a real company. Our fake profile garnered the attention of a Google recruiter and gained over 170 connections and 100 skill endorsements. Everyone is talking about fake accounts on Facebook and fake followers on Twitter. LinkedIn hasn’t been part of the conversation, but Microsoft’s social network also has a big problem…[Note – this article is a must read – I had no idea that it was so easy to create fake LinkedIn profiles with what appear to be actual work histories, connections and bona fides…]

beSpacific Subjects: Knowledge Management, Search Engines, Social Media
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Subject: Geneaology database used to find Lancaster County murderer changes policy; DA says it hampers investigations
Source: WPMT FOX43

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. –The DNA website used to find Raymond Rowe, now a convicted Lancaster County murderer, has restricted its access for law enforcement.

People who use GEDmatch to research their family tree can now refuse to allow police access to their DNA information.

The 1992 murder case of Christy Mirack was solved with the help of the website, GEDmatch. It’s mostly used by people uploading personal information to find family members. Police use it too, but now, that is all but coming to an end for the foreseeable future.

Filed in: News
Topics: Christy Mirack, DNA, GEDMATCH, homicide, Lancaster, Murder, Raymond Row
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Posted in: Criminal Law, Cyberlaw, Legal Research, Privacy, Search Engines, Social Media